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There’s something you can do right now that will help save a koala’s life.   Go to your air-conditioner remote control and click the temperature button up once.  Or, if you’re using a heater right now, click the temperature button down once.  Easy, hey?  

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What you’ve just done will use 10% less energy. 

That’s 10% less global-warming energy.  

Don’t do it for the 10% off your energy bill this month – do it for the koalas.

 

Why does that help a wild koala like Koala Clancy? 

Wild koalas like him are dying all over Australia due to climate change.  As a species they have always been sensitive to hot days, droughts and bushfires. 

Now, due to increasing global average temperature, those koala-killing factors are on the rise.

The most important scientific paper on koalas emerged in 2015, authored by the top koala scientists in Australia.  They concluded  “Climate change is a major threat to both northern and southern populations (of koalas). The implementation of policy to conserve remaining koala habitat and restore degraded habitat is critical to the success of koala conservation strategies, but habitat conservation alone will not resolve the issues of koala conservation. There needs to be concerted effort to reduce the incidence of dog attack and roadrelatedmortality, disease prevalence and severity, and take into account new threats of climate change and mining.” 1

Climate change is driven by fossil fuel energy production.  Australia’s homes contribute one-fifth of Australia’s energy use.  The figures are probably similar all over the developed world.  Air conditioning and heating make up about 40% of every household’s annual energy usage.  This graph shows it well - Australian Government Energy site.

So how does an air conditioner/heater work?  And why does turning up the temperature on the thermostat help so much? 

Air conditioners:

Air conditioners use energy to cool the air.  The more they have to cool the air (ie the difference between the natural room temperature* and the temperature you want), the more energy they use.  So if the natural temperature of your room is 25 degrees Celsius and you want it to be 23 C, the air conditioner doesn’t use much energy – that’s only a 2 degree difference.  However, if the natural temperature of your room is 35 C and you want it to be 23 C the air conditioner has to work very hard – that’s a difference of 12 degrees C - and uses a lot of energy to do it.  By raising the thermostat temperature by just one degree – to 24 C – your air-conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard.  You’ve saved 10% of energy and maybe a koala’s life.

Heaters:

Heaters work the same way but in reverse.  The more they have to warm the air, the harder they have to work. If the natural temperature of your room is 11 C and you want it to be 23 C the heater has to work very hard – that’s a difference of 12 degrees C - and uses a lot of energy to do it.  By lowering the thermostat temperature by just one degree – to 22 C – your heater doesn’t have to work so hard.  You’ve saved 10% of energy and maybe a koala’s life.

About the thermostat. The thermostat (remote control) on the air conditioner or heater has a temperature gauge inside.  When the room temperature reaches the number you’ve set on the thermostat (the temperature you want the room to be) it switches off the air-conditioner/heater.  If the room temperature rises, the thermostat turns the air-conditioner/heater back on until it gets back to the temperature you want. 

If you look at your thermostat – what number does it have on the display?  If its an air-conditioner, put that number up by one.  If its a heater, put that number down by one.

But what difference will it make to Koala Clancy if one person adjusts their thermostat?  A lot, if you can spread the word and we can get a lot of people doing it. 

So – here’s what to do:

Step 1: download/copy and print out this A4 image on recycled paper and tape one to every air-con or heater remote in the house.

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Step 2: Press the temperature button once on the thermostat/remote control.  Up for air-conditioner, down for heater.

Step 3: Take a photo of it and share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with this #1degree4KC

Next time you have a visitor, they’ll see it.   Next time you and your family reach for it, they’ll see Koala Clancy’s smiling face.   And how could you not love that face? Let’s make sure koalas are out there, smiling down at you from a gum tree, forever.

Please share, and use this #1degree4KC

 

Notes, references and quotes:

1. “Conserving koalas: A review of the contrasting regional trends, outlooks and policy challenges” by Clive McAlpine, Daniel L unney, Alistair Melzer, Peter Menkhorst, Stephen Phillips, David Phaleng, William Ellis, William Foley, Greg Baxter, Deidre de Villiers, Rodney Kavanagh, Christine Adams-Hosking, Charles Todd, DesleyWhisson, Robyn Molsher, MicheleWalter, Ivan Lawler, Robert Close View abstract 

 

“The koala already faces a powerful set of threats, such as loss of habitat and fragmentation of what remains, disease, fire and the impact of losses from dogs and vehicles. Climate change will compound these issues, accelerate adverse changes”

From “Koalas and climate change: a case study on the Liverpool Plains, north-west New South Wales” by Lunney D et al,  pp 150-168 in Wildlife and Climate Change: towards robust conservation strategies for Australian Fauna. Ed Lunney D and Hutchings P, 2012. View abstract 

“On the basis of estimates of mean population sizes for each bioregion and state, we estimated that the total number of koalas for Australia is 329,000 (range 144,000-605,000) with an estimated average decline of 24% over the past three generations and the next three generations. Estimated percentage of loss in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia was 53%, 26%, 14% and 3%, respectively.”

From  “Use of expert knowledge to elicit population trends for the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus)” by Adams-Hosking, Christine et al in Diversity & Distributions, 2016 view